Well, I’m delighted to welcome Secretary General Rasmussen back to Number 10 Downing Street. The last time you were here I think you addressed the whole of my National Security Council, very good to have you back. We’ll be talking about Afghanistan; we’ll be talking about a range of issues but above all, we’re going to be discussing the situation in Libya where I think the NATO forces are doing an excellent job with our allies, making sure that we’re keeping the pressure up on Qadhafi.
I think there is a very clear pattern emerging, which is time is on our side because we have the support of NATO, the United Nations, the Arab League, a huge number of countries in our coalition and in our contact group. And the pressure is building militarily, diplomatically, politically and economically on Qadhafi who is running out of time, running out of friends, his ministers are leaving him - his oil minister has gone, his foreign minister has gone, the pressure is building. I want us to keep up that pressure and I believe that we can help and allow the Libyan people to choose their own future. We can bring about Resolution 1973 and we can make sure that the Arab Spring continues rather than comes to a halt. Secretary General.
Secretary General Rasmussen
Thank you very much, Prime Minister. I am really pleased to meet with Prime Minister Cameron once again. Britain is a pillar of NATO. You are a key contributor to our operations, a great example of commitment and co-operation, and I want to pay tribute to the service and sacrifice of the British troops in Afghanistan and in other NATO-led operations. NATO is more needed and wanted than ever. During a period of economic austerity we need co-operation, collective solutions to make the most of the money we spend on defence and security.
Many countries want to join NATO and benefit from membership of a strong defence alliance and we are more engaged and busier than ever before. In Afghanistan we help the Afghans to take responsibility for their own security; in Kosovo we keep peace and stability in the Balkans. Our vessels operate along the coast of Somalia to keep sea lanes open and protected against pirates, and in Libya we protect civilians against attacks from their own government. And we are making steady progress in Libya since we took responsibility for the operation two and a half months ago. We have carried out more than 10,000 sorties; we have destroyed or damaged more than 2,000 important military targets. We have considerably degraded Qadhafi’s war machine, prevented a massacre on the Libyan people, saved numerous lives and we have just a few weeks ago decided to extend our operation for a further three months and allies and partners are committed to provide the necessary resources and assets to continue operations and see it through to a successful conclusion. And a successful conclusion would be a peaceful transition to democracy and this is also the reason why NATO foreign ministers have endorsed the international call on Qadhafi to leave power.
Thank you very much.